Charlotte Ree is all about baking from scratch, using ingredients that can be easily found in your local supermarket. She wants home bakers to go back to basics and use techniques and flavours that wouldn’t throw our grandparents for a six. Her recently released cookbook, Just Desserts, gives amateur bakers the tools and know-how to whip up classics such as brownies and apple crumble, and fancier fare such as vanilla cake with ricotta icing and roasted peaches.

If you needed any further proof that Ree’s chocolate buttermilk cake is a winner, there’s this: Gelato Messina has transformed the cake into a gelato flavour, and is serving it at all its stores. It’s made by baking 50 kilograms of the cake, mixing it into gelato and layering it with chocolate-coated pretzels and chocolate ganache.

“This recipe was first featured in an e-book I published and has since taken on a life of its own,” Ree says. “It’s a cake dedicated to the die-hard chocolate fans out there – a deliciously moist chocolate buttermilk cake slathered in an incredible chocolate-cream-cheese icing. It’s sweet and dark, and the buttermilk provides the perfect kiss of sourness to give you a balance of flavours that will fulfil the deepest desires of any chocolate lover.”

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Try decorating this cake with chocolate-coated pretzels to give the cake a pop of salt and some crunch.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
Serves 8
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 50–60 minutes

250g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, sifted
300g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
50g Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
1 large egg, at room temperature
125ml buttermilk, at room temperature

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
100g icing sugar, sifted
50g Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted

Preheat the oven to 160˚C. Grease and line a 22cm springform tin.

Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda and sugar in a bowl, then add the melted butter, cocoa and 150ml of water. Whisk to combine. Add the egg, buttermilk and vanilla, and whisk to combine again.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin.

Bake for 50–60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin completely.

To make the icing, place the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until pale and creamy. Scrape down the side of the bowl, add the icing sugar and cocoa, and beat for a further 6–8 minutes, or until fluffy.

Spread the icing over the cooled cake and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2–3 days.

Just Desserts is out now. Purchase your copy here.